Oil on Canvas
20 x 30 Inches
Signed Lower Left, "Gikow"
With original New York, Kennedy Gallery label bearing Artist Information and Dated 1974
Born in the Russian Ukraine, Ruth Gikow's family emigrated to the United States in 1920, settling on the Lower East Side of New York. She won early recognition for her artwork at Washington Irving High School, which then had one of the strongest art departments in New York City.
At 17, Gikow entered Cooper Union Art School, studying initially under Austin Purvis, Jr. and John Steuart Curry. She continued her studies under Raphael Soyer holding a showing of her earliest paintings in the lobby of Greenwich Village's Eighth Street Playhouse. After graduating from art school, she was granted four years of WPA's Federal Arts Project funding.
In 1939, under the auspices of the WPA, Gikow was commissioned to paint a series of murals, including for the children's ward at Bronx Hospital, Riker's Island and the Rockefeller Center. With a group of like-minded artists, she helped found the American Serigraph Society, which turned out high-quality, original graphics designed to be affordable to people of modest means.
Following World War II and a brief career in commercial art, she met and married the expressionist artist, Jack Levine. Challenged by his dedication and commitment, she returned to her own painting and drawing with renewed vigor. She illustrated Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and began to exhibit at New York's Weyhe Gallery, Grand Central Galleries, Forum Gallery and at Kennedy Galleries, where this painting was originally exhibited. Described by the art-critic, Henry-Russell Hitchcock as one of the country's "ten outstanding women painters", Gikow evolved her own characteristic, figurative style influenced by her studies of the Old Masters, the wall paintings of Pompeii and the Byzantine mosaics at Ravenna.
Gikow exhibited widely and with success and her work is represented in numerous private and public collections, including the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Portland Museum of Art, Maine, National Institute of Arts and Letters, New York, and the Butler Art Institute, Youngstown, Ohio, among others.
Framed dimensions: 21¼ x 1½ x 31¼ inches.
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